Haymarket, Chicago, USA, 1886

This video from Chicago, USA is called May Day 2011: Thousands Take Part In Haymarket 125th Anniversary Reenactment.

By Rhian E Jones in Britain:

The Haymarket Scrapbook

Edited by Franklin Rosemont and David Roediger (AK Press, £18.95)

Tuesday 13 November 2012

The euphemistically titled Haymarket Affair of 1886 began with a rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square in support of a strike for the eight-hour day.

The rally’s violent dispersal by police, during which a bomb was thrown and gunfire exchanged, resulted in the deaths of seven officers, at least four civilians and the subsequent arrest, on very scant evidence, of eight anarchists, seven of whom were sentenced to death.

This reissue of the commemorative anthology Haymarket Scrapbook marks 125 years since these events.

Following an updated preface by the radical historian Peter Linebaugh, the book’s first section contextualises what happened at Haymarket Square, recreating the volatile and heavily politicised atmosphere in which the events took place through reproducing hundreds of contemporary documents, speeches, posters and handbills.

Its second section deals with the local and international responses, debates and analysis surrounding the dubious arrests, prosecution and sentencing of the eight “Haymarket Martyrs” and a final section documents the abiding influence of the affair, from subsequent industrial struggles to the Surrealist movement and proto-Brechtian theatre.

The content chosen is diverse and eclectic. It attests to the febrile blend of anarcho-syndicalist, socialist and communist agitation which made up the background to the Haymarket events and emphasises its international and multiracial nature.

The significant part played by women during and after the events is outlined in retrospectives by Carolyn Ashbaugh and contributions from the period by Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons and Eleanor Marx.

On its first publication for the events’ centennial in 1986, the Haymarket Scrapbook provided a source of alternative inspiration for those opposing the dominant paradigms of the era of Thatcherism and Reaganomics.

A quarter of a century on, the neoliberal certainties of the 1980s seem so entrenched that the radical vitality, flamboyance and confidence which pervades these documents can sometimes look like a relic of an irrevocable age – not to mention the contrast between the historical spirit of revolutionary trade unionism and the present constitutional malaise evident in considerable swathes of western workers’ organisation.

The Haymarket Scrapbook nevertheless remains a valuable and engaging tribute and a major contribution to US and international labour history.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.